In the first game of the home and home series for both the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, commonly known as The Battle of California (due to North vs South), last night’s game at the Staples Center is one to talk about. Eleven goals came from 10 different players, Kings forward Justin Williams being the only player to tally two on the night.
However it wasn’t the amount of goals scored in the game that has fans alike up in arms. It was the play that happened during the last minutes of the game when Ryane Clowe appears to poke the puck away from Jarret Stoll. From that view, you can clearly see Clowe reaching out over the bench with his stick in the path of Stoll.
If the refs had seen this play happen, two things would’ve happened. One, the Sharks would’ve been assessed with a bench minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct or too many men and two, the Kings would’ve had a 5 on 3 power play for the rest of the game. (For a listing of types of bench minors, see here.)
Maybe that was a little on the unsportsmanlike side for Clowe, who after the game when asked about that specific play, said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And when the NHL defines unsportsmanlike conduct, it reads as follows:
75.3 Bench Minor Penalty – A bench minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct shall be assessed under this rule for the following infractions:
(i) When a player, Coach or non-playing Club personnel throws any object onto the ice from the players’ or penalty bench (or from any other off-ice location) during the progress of the game or during a stoppage of play.
(ii) Any unidentifiable player, or any Coach or non-playing Club personnel uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gesture directed towards any person.
(iii) Whenever Coaches and/or non-playing Club personnel uses obscene or profane language or gestures anywhere in the rink.
But where in that does it say that reaching over the bench with your stick to touch the puck is a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct? It doesn’t, but it wasn’t a good move on Clowe’s part to knowingly reach over the bench and play the puck.
One might say its safe to assume that the Kings could’ve won this game had they been given that final 5 on 3, with 7 of the 10 goals coming on the power play (four of them from the Kings) and Patrick Marleau already in the box for tripping.
As the day went on, Clowe admitted to his infraction to the San Jose Mercury News stating that, “It probably should have been a two-minute penalty and I was lucky it didn’t cost the team. It was definitely a brain cramp at the time. Don’t think it’ll ever happen again.”
The Sharks and Kings go again for the final time this season tomorrow in San Jose. If last nights game is any indication of how things will be in the South Bay, expect a repeat of Game 3 of last years playoffs.
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Current NHL rules don’t provide an avenue to punish Clowe through the Dept. of Player Safety. From Rule 56.2 — Interference:
A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable
player on the players’ bench or penalty bench who, by means of his stick
or his body, interferes with the movements of the puck or any opponent
on the ice during the progress of the play. In addition, should a player
about to come onto the ice, play the puck while one or both skates are
still on the players’ or penalty bench, a minor penalty for interference
shall be assessed.
The appropriate penalty according to the playing rules shall be
assessed when a player on the players’ or penalty bench gets involved
with an opponent on the ice during a stoppage in play. The player(s)
involved may be subject to additional sanctions as appropriate pursuant
to Rule 28 — Supplementary Discipline.
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